Finland has updated the national contingency plan for pine wood nematode

1.9.2011

<p> <strong>Pine wood nematode is a significant pest of pine forests. It is not present in Finland. Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira has prepared for the spreading of pine wood nematode to Finland by drawing up a contingency plan, which has now been updated. The plan describes the measures to be taken, if pine wood nematode is found in Finland in a forest, in domestic or foreign timber or in wooden packaging material.</strong> </p>

The pine wood nematode is a less than 1 mm long pest, which lives in several conifers, such as pine, spruce, fir and larch. In pines it can cause pine wilt disease, which can kill the trees in a matter of a few months.

Pine wood nematode is found in e.g. North America, Japan and China. The first European sighting of the pest was made in Portugal in 1999, and it has since been found also in Madeira and Spain.

Pine wood nematode spreads with contaminated softwood timber and softwood packaging material. In order to prevent the spreading of the pest , import restrictions and handling requirements have been specified for softwood timber and wooden packaging material imported to Finland. Despite these measures, live pine wood nematodes are found on a yearly basis in inspections of packaging material.

In Finland, pine wood nematode would probably only be able to cause tree mortality in the southern parts of the country. The cold climate would most likely prevent it from causing extensive damage to forests in the more northern areas, but the occurrence of the pest in Finland would hinder the export of Finnish timber.

The updated contingency plan describes the measures to be taken, if pine wood nematode is found in a Finnish forest. It also describes the measures to be taken, if the pathogen is found in domestic or foreign timber or in wooden packaging material.

Eradication measures would require conifer-free zones in our forests. If necessary, prevention measures would also extend to garden and park trees as well as nature conservation areas. The plan also presents calculations of the resources required for the implementation of the planned measures and the costs caused by them. The updating of the contingency plan has been carried out in collaboration between Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, the Central Union of Agricultural Producers and Forest Owners (MTK), the Southwest Finland Forestry Centre, the Finnish Forest Research Institute (Metla), the Finnish Forest Industries' Federation and the National Board of Customs.

Update crisis contingency plan on Evira's web site: Evira.fi > Julkaisut > Kasvit > Contingency plan for pine wood nematode (in Finnish, pdf 2747 kB)

More information on the pine wood nematode: Evira.fi > Plants> Cultivation and Production > Plant pests and diseases > Quarantine pests and diseases > Forestry and wood > Pine wood nematode

For further information:
Hannu Kukkonen, Head of Unit, tel. +358 2077 25030, +358 40 524 0227
Jyrki Tomminen, Senior Researcher, tel. +358 2077 25155, +358 40 725 7236

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